The Christoper & Dana Reeve Foundation hosted its first annual Reeve Summit at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC last week, and it was a fantastic success.

Robin Roberts addressing Reeve Summit 2020.
Robin Roberts addressing Reeve Summit 2020. | Image courtesy Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Nearly 500 people — disabled persons, caregivers, advocates and professionals in the healthcare, community services and policymaking areas — turned out for the inaugural event. Reeve Summit 2020 was headlined by keynote speakers including Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America and former Senator Tom Harkin, architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The summit agenda was filled with interesting and informative content. During breakout sessions, attendees chose from topics such as disability policy, life with disability, caregiving, community support and advocacy, among others. Each session was compelling, but with 4 sessions running concurrently, it was difficult to decide!

I personally chose to sit in on discussions around the Reeve Foundation’s policy priorities and strategies for building community and a new generation of advocates. I missed interesting sessions like Intimacy and Relationships with Cole Sydnor and Charisma Jamison, Finding A Good Caregiver with Ron & Betsy Gold, and How To Prepare for an Emergency with Ken Huelskamp.

On the last day of the Reeve Summit, I was honored to sit on a panel about accessible air travel with the following experts:

  • Dr. Anjali Forber-Pratt, Assistant Professor of Human & Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University
  • Ray Prentice, Director of Customer Advocacy, Alaska Airlines
  • Supriya Raman, Acting Disability Branch Manager and Multicultural Branch Manager, Transportationn Security Administration
  • Dallas Thomas, Manager, Customer Advocacy and Regulatory Compliance, Southwest Airlines

Our panel provided an overview of the entire air travel experience, from planning and booking to arrival and baggage claim. You can find detailed information about all steps of the journey in my Wheelchair Users’ Guide to Air Travel. Following our panel discussion, we took questions from the audience on a variety of topics, including storing a manual wheelchair on an airplane and protecting a power wheelchair during air travel.

After my panel concluded, I rushed to the airport to catch a flight, and missed the closing remarks. I am sure I echo the conference organizers in saying that the event was a success, and engaged attendees in the critical work of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. I look forward to future summits, and hope to meet you there next year!

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